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Monday, April 01, 2024


by William Aarnes

after reading Stanley’s Kunitz’s translations of Anna Akhmatova

        for the contributors to The New Verse News

“He’s Threatened To Put Them In Jail”: Joe Biden Tells Katie Couric That Journalists Have Told Him Of Their Fears If Donald Trump Returns To White House —Deadline, February 22, 2024

Of course, they will jail

the journalists first


but the time will come

when you will pass your days

aware that the authorities

are letting you live

a circumscribed life,  


a couple of years

of the woman at the window  

of the apartment across the street

always fixing a stare

on you when you draw

your curtains open 

an intimidating reminder

that whatever you do

on your cell and laptop

is under surveillance,

your movements tracked,


a then two, three years in,

impossible to miss,

the agents in the parked car

always quick to get out

to openly follow you,

one just a few steps

above you on the escalator

and never standing more

than four people away

on a crowded subway,

you beginning to wish

you dared to confront them

with your puzzlement

about how much they are paid,


the time at last coming

when, one of your shadows

sipping coffee four tables away,

a dear friend will fail

to show for the lunch     

where you planned to lie

that you are too scared

to write any more poems,

not even in your head,


your friend not responding

to texts, you lingering

over your salad, dreading

the escorted ride home.

William Aarnes lives in Manhattan.